An Impudent Packing List for the Camino de Santiago
If you plan to haul an object on your back for 900 kilometers, carefully consider its importance. And its weight.
Here are the objects I deemed worthy:
*Osprey Sirrus 36 “Full Day Adventure” pack (2 lbs, 14 oz; 1.31 kg)
*REI “Travel Down” 45-degree sleeping bag
**Salomon Gore-Tex hiking boots (I HAD NO BLISTERS. Take a moment to absorb that.)
*Leki Makalu “Ultralite” titanium hiking poles (alt. use: Intimidating oncoming livestock.)
**REI Rain jacket and pants (alt. uses: Snow suit. Wind suit. Freezing cold suit. Nakedness prevention suit on wash day.)
**2 pr Smartwool socks (I would marry these.)
******2 pr Ex Officio quick-dry underwear (The importance of good panties cannot be overstated.)
2 long-sleeved quick-dry shirts (1 hoodie, 1 button-down)
1 short-sleeved quick-dry shirt
2 yoga tops with built-in bras (alt. use: PJs)
1 pr fancy hiking pants
1 fairly tasteful black zippy fleece (alt. use: Throw on a silk scarf with this at night, and you’re dressed up.)
1 pr fancy hiking “skort”(alt. use: evening fashion)
1 pr plain ol’ women’s tights (alt. use: Wear under rain suit when everything else is hanging out to dry.)
1 pr cheap hiking shorts
1 pr extremely cheap nylon long underwear tights (alt. use: PJs)
1 bathing suit bottom (alt. use: emergency underwear)
1 sport bra (alt. use: bathing suit top)
dorky quick-dry sunhat (alt. use: an umbrella for your face when it rains.)
*****Cambodian “krama” scarf (alt. use: everything)
fleece hat (alt. use: sock and panty storage)
tiny purse for passports and money
free plastic string bags from conferences (dual uses: organizing crap in your pack; becomes a purse at night)
diaper pins (for hanging wet stuff off your pack to dry)
camp towel (Produces a horrible, undry sensation, but is unavoidable.)
camp shoes—Mary-Jane style Crocs (alt. use: shower shoes. Not quite as hideous as regular Crocs.)
2 tiny silk scarves (Choose one foolish indulgence. This was mine.)
prescription sunglasses and case (Great last-minute find: a first-aid kit exactly the right shape to be a glasses case, with a carabiner that clipped onto the pack.)
*Canon EOS M camera/ThinkTank lens drop carry bag/charger/extra cards (Bag clips to waist belt for easy access and EVEN HAS A RAIN FLY. Delightful.)
The requisite Brierley Camino guidebooks, zany asides and all.
Pigrims’ credentials and scallop shells
Journal/pens/zippy book bag
Toiletries (Minimal: comb, hair clips, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen/moisturizer/blister care, Vitamin Ibu, Burt’s Bees lip balm)
Various plastic bags (uses: infinite. Throw in a small assortment of plastic ziploc, trash, and grocery bags. They will become treasured objects—especially in Galicia, when all off your possessions will become wettened.)
scallop shell earrings made by Mom (Plus 2 pairs to give away to Finnish ladies on the square in Los Arcos so that they will cry and hug you.)
- One *star means this user likes the brand or design listed.
- Two *stars mean this user is irrationally in love with the brand or design and considers the listed item among her most prized possessions.
- More than two *stars mean this user shall under no circumstances be separated from the listed item and has given up all alternative brands or designs in this category.
- Buy toiletries once you get there. Haul only the tiniest, most adorable bottles you can find.
- When deciding whether an object is eligible to be carried across a country, give it higher priority if it has more than one use.
- In choosing your preferred foolish indulgence, opt for things that offer maximum pleasure for minimum weight. (exceptions: infinite. Our friend ST, for example, does not wish to live without a makeup kit. Our mad Andalusian chef confessed that he carried a bottle of aftershave across the Pyrenees. “My face is delicate,” he said. “Is like a butterfly.” moral: You must carry your happiness with you, whatever it weighs.)
- Addendum to aforementioned moral: If your happiness is so heavy that it destroys your feet, it ceases to be your happiness.
- What you can’t grasp right now is the fact that for the first 10 days of the Camino, your mangled feet will become the only things that matter to you in this world. Love them. Buy wonderful shoes and socks for them. Get Compeed and Mokeskin and learn to use them.
- Don’t panic. You can buy gear in St. Jean Pied de Port, Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León, etc.
- When people say don’t carry more than 1/10 your body weight, they are not simply introducing the opening bid. They are trying to save your life.
- You do not need to carry scads of cash. There are ATM machines in all of the cities and many of the towns.
- Leave your ego at home. It is far too heavy to carry.
Got a question? We’ll create an FAQ just for you. Buen Camino!
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A Pilgrim’s Progress — On The Way, a 5’3″ woman’s gotta learn to be big sometimes, especially when her Big Strong Man feels small.
Camino by the Numbers — The stats: miles walked, toenails sacrificed, tears shed.
9 Way to Be a Kinder, Gentler Pilgrim — A few simple lessons in Camino etiquette.